New staff member brings valuable expertise to Council

Danielle Verna

Dr. Danielle Verna joined the Council’s staff in April, filling the position of Environmental Monitoring Project Manager.

The position was previously held by Austin Love, who had been simultaneously managing this area of Council work and Terminal Operations for the last year and a half.

Verna brings important skills and knowledge to the Council. For her doctoral thesis, she studied how maritime trade, including oil transport, can affect the timing and location of invasive species delivery from the ballast water of tankers and bulk carriers, as well as the regulations and current events that impact trade patterns and shipping practices.
She is passionate about applying science to real world management and policy needs.

Her credentials include a Ph.D. in Environmental Science from Portland State University, a M.S. from Alaska Pacific University, and a B.S. from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.

Verna completed several research reports for the Council as part of her studies:

Science Night 2013 - Presentation on testing ballast water for invasive species in Port Valdez & other U.S. ports (3.6 MB)

Analysis Of Crude Oil Tanker Ballast Water Data For Valdez And Prince William Sound, Alaska (2.5 MB)

Updated: Analysis of Crude Oil Tanker Ballast Water Data for Valdez & Prince William Sound, Alaska - February 2016 (2.9 MB)

Analysis Of Federal And State Ballast Water Management Policy As It Concerns Crude Oil Tankers Engaged In Coastwise Trade To Alaska (2.1 MB)

Status Of International And Domestic Regulations On Installation And Use Of Ballast Water Management Systems (1.9 MB)

Community Corner: Prince William Sound Natural History Symposium goes virtual

By Betsi Oliver
Outreach Coordinator

Photo of Betsi Oliver
Betsi Oliver

The third annual Prince William Sound Natural History Symposium, held on May 24, 2021, featured 20 speakers and over 260 participants. The Prince William Sound Stewardship Foundation hosts this annual event. The foundation is a small volunteer-led nonprofit dedicated to keeping Prince William Sound healthy, clean, and wild, for all to enjoy. The Council helped sponsor the event and assisted the planning effort.

Speakers represented tribes, land management agencies, nonprofits, and scientists working in Prince William Sound and the North Gulf of Alaska. Representatives from Chugach Regional Resources Commission started the day with a Land Acknowledgment and the Mayor of Whittier, Dave Dickason, welcomed attendees. Topics ranged from wildlife to glaciers to history. Council volunteer Dave Goldstein presented on weather in Prince William Sound. I provided an introduction to how oil spill response is managed in our region.

The symposium was first conceived in 2019 as a pre-season training for guides and interpreters based out of Whittier. Nobody expected the event, which was held at the Whittier Public Safety Building, to be standing-room-only with over a hundred attendees.

Then, in early 2020, the organizers faced a challenge: cancel, or go virtual? I had already attended a few virtual conferences thrown together hastily in March 2020, so I knew it could be done. I was able to support the transition to an online symposium, preparing speakers and hosts to pull off this “new” thing: a live, public videoconference event. Over 260 people registered that year. It was a success! The virtual platform allowed participation from the entire Prince William Sound region, as well as statewide and beyond. Registration in 2021 matched numbers from 2020.

The future of the symposium is unclear. Presenters, participants, and organizers have all said they want to see it continue. After three years of volunteer efforts, the foundation is seeking financial support to hire a symposium coordinator. As pandemic restrictions lift, many would like to see the event return to Whittier. The possibility of a hybrid event (in person and online) seems to serve both the needs of local guides and interpreters – the original audience – and the broader interest that has developed over two years of online distribution. A dedicated coordinator would be critical to a successful hybrid event, which requires advanced audio-visual technology and greater staff support. The foundation hosts other events, including extensive volunteer efforts, throughout the year.

Recordings from the 2020 and 2021 symposiums are posted on the Prince William Sound Stewardship Foundation’s website.

From Alyeska: Annual health fair held online

Submitted by: Alyeska Corporate Communications

Spring brings many things to Prince William Sound – salmon, humpback whales and orcas, and the Alyeska Prince William Sound Traveling Health Fair! The 2020 health fair was canceled just weeks before departure due to the worsening pandemic. Like many things this year, COVID-19 required some creative retooling to carry out the 2021 event, which was held virtually the week of May 17.

Beginning in January, Alyeska personnel, local health and wellness providers, and Chenega and Tatitlek teachers and community members worked to develop classroom sessions to support specific targets set by the Chugach School District. Key areas of focus included nutrition, body awareness and first aid, and substance abuse prevention.

“The providers are always willing to adapt, create, and offer topics that we’ve asked for and deliver it all with such meaningful presentation,” said Tatitlek teacher Nichole Palmer. “They were innovative and came up with a way to deliver the traveling health fair, without traveling! I believe our students were able to get knowledgeable information that will help them progress in their levels.”

Classroom sessions were held over Zoom and materials that complimented the virtual lessons were distributed to the schools beforehand, along with other goodies for the students.

Among a strong slate of classes, there were some highlights. Students learned some healthy, easy, and delicious dip recipes made from pantry staples and what nutrition labels can tell them about what they’re eating. A yoga teacher led elementary students in movement class based on the life cycle of salmon. The week capped off with a panel put on by Alyeska’s Alaska Native program for Tatitlek and Chenega high schoolers. Employees from across Alaska talked about their journeys to the TAPS workforce, notable mentors, helpful tips, and the importance of hard work and resilience.

“We were disappointed that we couldn’t hold the event in person this year but keeping community members and providers safe and healthy was at the forefront of our minds,” said Kate Dugan, Valdez Communications Manager. “I’m so grateful for the volunteers who brought flexibility and imagination to the table and made the event successful. We’re all looking forward to an in-person Prince William Sound Traveling Health Fair soon!”

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